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Learning: Does Organization Ownership Matter? Structure and Performance in For-profit, Nonprofit and Local Government Nursing Homes*

Avner Ben-Ner () and Ting Ren

Working Papers from Human Resources and Labor Studies, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus)

Abstract: We compare the structure and performance of for-profit (FP), nonprofit (NP) and local government (LG) organizations. These organizations differ in their ownership structure, objectives and agency relations. We conjecture that, compared to NP and LG, FP firms (a) delegate less decision-making power to employees, (b) provide more incentives and fewer fringe benefits, (c) monitor less, and (d) rely less on social networks to recruit employees. We also hypothesize that, relative to NP and LG, FP firms (i) are more efficient, (ii) provide similar levels of service elements that observable to their customers, (iii) provide lower levels of less-well observable elements, and (iv) provide less of the relational elements. Differences in structure and performance are likely to be tempered by regulation, market competition and institutional pressures for similarity. We study detailed performance outcomes for all the 369 Minnesota nursing homes included in federal and state datasets, and organization structure for a subsample of 105 homes that responded to our survey. Our empirical investigation generally supports our hypotheses. In particular, we find that FP homes serve more residents than NP and LG, after controlling for quality differences. However, FP homes provide lower quality services on a large array of attributes, especially those that are less observable by nursing home residents and their families. The differences among different types of organization are small, but significant.

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